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In a Word
At Writing by Design, we believe that powerful marketing begins with potent language. Our blog is your source for tips and insights into the world of market-minded communication.

A word about…mascara.

Come with me for a walk down your local beauty aisle. Bright lights draw attention and focus to the biggest brands’ best products that bring women flocking to this aisle. Words jump off the packaging promising better color, fewer wrinkle lines, shiny lips and much, much more. And then, we see it. The giant sea of tubes of black, brown and multi-colored lash enhancers. Yes, mascara. Skinny ones, fat ones, shiny ones and more. To be honest, as a frequent buyer of mascara, I think it’s very hard to differentiate among the brand choices at the shelf. They all provide a product that darkens the lashes and makes them a little more, shall we say, noticeable. Thousands of words have been selected to bring brand differentiations to life. Voluminous. A million lashes. Incredible lashes. But none have done it as succinctly as the Maybelline brand did back in 2011 with their launch of Lash Stiletto® mascara.

Ok, there, I said it. What did you think of? Whether you’re a man or a woman, likely the first words that came to your mind were “sharp, pointy and black.” Brilliant! I got all that from…just…one…word. And when you’re trying to sell something, sometimes less is more and the words you choose to sell your product can have an enormous impact on the features and benefits you’re trying to communicate. It’s my favorite example to share with clients when we are working together on new product concepts because it demonstrates that sometimes we need to challenge ourselves to use words that communicate features and benefits for us instead of communicating features and benefits directly to us. And that’s exactly what we did when we helped write the concepts for Kimberly-Clark’s Depend Silhouette underwear. After discovering that consumers really wanted underwear-like protection that was discreet, we helped them discover the power in a single word – Silhouette. And just like that, a new successful product was launched because the product spoke to consumers about benefits without clobbering them over the head with unnecessary language.

So what’s the point of all this? The point is to remember to remember that, particularly in sales copy, the right choice of words can mean the difference between a product that sits on the shelf – sad, lonely and unpurchased — and one that practically jumps off the shelf into a consumer’s hands all because of one…little…word. Thanks for the lesson, Maybelline!

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